Vox Tablet

Fugging Around

At 86, blind and housebound, Fugs frontman Tuli Kupferberg is still dispensing crass words of wisdom

February 22, 2010

In 1965, two beat poets on New York’s Lower East Side, Tuli Kupferberg and Ed Sanders, put together a band called the Fugs. (The name is a euphemism that means what it sounds like and was borrowed from Norman Mailer’s novel The Naked and the Dead.) The Fugs have been recording and performing irreverent rants about sex, drugs, and war since then, often with Kupferberg delivering deadpan lyrics in what the New York Times recently described as his “rabbinical monotone.” The group’s latest album, Be Free, comes out this week, though Kupferberg has been confined to his home since the fall, after two strokes left him virtually blind. He continues to make himself heard by way of daily dispatches, which he calls “perverbs,” posted on YouTube. He doesn’t consider himself religious, but his songs, poems, and missives are steeped in the Yiddish culture he grew up in. Reporter Jon Kalish profiled the performer—who, be warned, uses some explicit language. [Running time: 11:25.]

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